Tuesday, June 12, 2007

On A Sidenote...

I'm not sure why I didn't do this sooner, but I checked out a book that D.A. wrote. In it, he discusses HOW to write a killer book... breaking it down into how to push your plotlines, create conflict, write memorable characters... etc. etc.

Now, I have to admit, I'm not a big believer in "how to" books. In my opinion (please don't hate me for saying this), I think some people have an innate set of skills that they bring to the table...and well, some just don't. (ducks) The idea of throwing money at books that "guarantee" you'll be able to improve your ability is silly to me. Heh. NOT that I think you can't build on what you have, but I think the only successful way to do that is to practice and actually, yanno...write. But you know, if you find writing books are an asset to you, have at 'em, I say. Whatever floats your boat. Me, I'd rather experiment and figure out things for myself... I don't want to limit myself to "the way" it's done, by someone who may have published their "expert" book through iUniverse. (VBG) Quite honestly, when I have too many rules floating around in my head, I choke.

ANYWAY -- the main reason I gave in and got the book is because I wanted a glimpse into the mind of D.A.... see what he looks for in a novel. It was enlightening, to say the least. I haven't made it through the entire thing, but it's definitely given me stuff to chew on and strive toward. I've come up with some _crazy_ situations to put my characters through... tension/conflict galore. If he wants oomph, he's gonna get it. LOL. I'll be lucky if anyone's alive in the end. Okay, I'm kidding...but I really am pushing it to the outer limits here.

One thing I'm taking away from this book (so far) is the idea of remembering to humanize your antagonist. I realized tonight that I have that "faceless" bad guy who's just evil for evil's sake... He's totally one-dimensional. *gasp* So, I sat down tonight and thought about what his motivations/needs/desires are... I came up with some good stuff. LOL. Perhaps this will give him a bit of that Hannibal Lector thing -- evil, but on some level, you kinda like him. (g) Hey, if I could achieve a tenth of Lector's charm, I'd be pretty happy.

Other than that... most of the stuff is pretty common sense. LOL. I'm not gonna lie. I found I already had a lot of the things he looks for -- one being an original premise. I gotta tell ya, there aren't many people in the world that have done THIS kind of undercover work. And I'm sure I'm the ONLY person writing a book about it... not to say I'm all that original...but let's be honest. I had a rather unique job. LOL. And he told me I know how to do conflict... lol. If I can just get that "upping the stakes" bit, I'll be golden. (g)

Anyway -- I'm feeling edumacated tonight. Not really, but go with it. :)

9 comments:

Carol said...

Hi Jen,
I completely agree. Some people have it and some don't. I think anyone can 'learn' how to write, but does it come through as learned or are they able to fine tune what is already a part of them. Writing isn't for everyone but that's okay. Stick with what you do best.

Hélène B said...

Cool!

Sounds like you got a nugget out of your reading and a little insight on what makes DA tick.

Psst. Don't tell anyone, but I need all the help I can get, so I do read 'craft' books. LOL

Susan Adrian said...

Jen:

I don't like "craft" books either...with the exception of STORY, which just resonated with me all over the place. I like Donald Maass' seminars at Surrey too; he always gets me energized, and thinking in different ways. Several people at Surrey, actually.

You must go to Surrey. {g}

Jen said...

Carol,

I should qualify my statement by saying that books about the _mechanics_ of writing are totally understandable... it's the ones that guarantee that you're somehow going to glean storytelling ability from their pages.. Yeah, I don't get or buy into that premise. (g) But I could be wrong -- they just don't personally help me. I do own Stephen King's "On Writing" -- thought it was a great book and provided a great deal of insight into how HE writes. But just because it works for him, doesn't mean it will ever work for me. I think people get too caught up in the idea of following what someone they admire does...and can actually convince themselves that THEY write that way, too.

I won't name any names, but think chunkwriting. LOL. Now, I AM a chunkwriter...but even I know that it doesn't always work that way for me. But some people become so convinced that's what they are, that the wallow in inactivity for long periods of time.

IMHO -- experiment and find out what works for you.

Jen

Jen said...

Helene,

Oh yes -- it's interesting to see what moves/excites him. I mean, some of it I already know. It's actually quite amusing to read something that echoes what he said to me during The Call. Overall, it's just giving me a nice little peek into his mind.

And I hope I didn't sound like a complete snot for going off on writing books. LOL. Personally, I think you learn more from other writers...crit groups...reading a lot, etc. And of course, experimenting with your own writing. I just hate it when people read a book and start ranting about How It's Supposed To Be Done. It probably has more to do with actually paying for the books rather than buying fiction I'd enjoy much more. :)

Jen

Jen said...

Susan,

Oh goodness -- I want to come to Surrey, too. :) I'm planning on it as of right now -- hoping that things are "settled" by then so I'm not forced to eat crow the entire weekend. (g) Can you imagine? That would so suck.

I'd love to go to The Donald's seminar -- I've heard talk of them for so long on the forum. (g)

Jen

Hélène B said...

>>And I hope I didn't sound like a complete snot for going off on writing books.

Pfft, no! It's like parenting books. I read them all when I had my first baby. Then, once I got the hang of things I learned to trust my gut, and threw the darn things out.

Same dif, I guess.

:-)

Jen said...

Helene,

Oh man...if/when I have kids, I will be a NERVOUS wreck. That's when I buy every book on the subject. LOL. Yup -- I'll pour my money into having people tell me what to do. (g) This is because I had absolutely NO babies in my life at any point. I've never even changed a diaper as far as I can remember. I did help my cousin's toddler change her pull-up once, but that hardly counts. LOL.

Glad I didn't offend. :) I'm a harmless ranter...but get carried away from time to time. LOL.

Jen

Susan Adrian said...

Jen:

Eh. If you look at it that way, I'd have been "eating crow" the past couple of years...just because things didn't turn out the way I expected. But I see that where I'm going now is a better direction, so I've decided I just answer to myself. {s}